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BFS Online: Inspiration –Interview with C.J. Cooke

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Our lovely interviewee is C.J. Cooke, author of The Ghost Woods, and will be interviews by BFS Chair, Shona Kinsella.

CJ Cooke, also known as Carolyn Jess-Cooke, grew up on a council estate in Belfast, Northern Ireland, at the height of the Troubles. She started writing at the age of 7 and pestered publishers for many years with manuscripts typed on her grandparents’ old typewriter and cover notes written on pages ripped from school jotters.

Since then, she has published 16 books in 23 languages and won numerous awards, including an Eric Gregory Award from the Society of Authors, a Tyrone Guthrie Prize, a K Blundell Award, and she has won a Northern Writer’s Award three times. In 2011, her debut novel, The Guardian Angel’s Journal, was published by Little, Brown. The novel was an international bestseller. Her second novel, The Boy Who Could See Demons (2012), is a cult classic. Her sixth novel, The Lighthouse Witches, was published in October 2021, and was an Indigo Book of the Month, an international bestseller, a New York Public Library Book of the Year and nominated for both an Edgar Award by Mystery Writers of America and an ITW Thriller Award in 2022. It is soon to be a major TV series produced by StudioCanal and The Picture Company. A Haunting in the Arctic is her latest novel and is published in October 2023. Get your copy of A Haunting in the Arctic here.

CJ holds a BA (Hons), MA, and PhD from Queen’s University, Belfast, and commenced her academic career in 2005 as a Lecturer in Film Studies at the University of Sunderland. Shortly thereafter, she published four academic works in swift succession on Shakespearean Cinema and Film Sequels, before establishing her career as a poet, editor, and novelist.

Now Reader in Creative Writing at the University of Glasgow, CJ convenes the prestigious MLitt Creative Writing and researches ways that creative writing can help with trauma and mental health. Throughout 2013-18 she directed the Writing Motherhood project, which explored the impact of motherhood on women’s writing. She is also the founder and director of the Stay-at-Home! Literary Festival, which is dedicated to providing people with accessible, inclusive, and eco-friendly ways to access literature.

CJ has four children and lives with her family in Glasgow, Scotland.

Find out more about CJ on her website. Or follow her on Twitter.

Shona Kinsella: Shona Kinsella is a multiple-award-nominated Scottish fantasy author. Her works include The Heart of Winter, The Vessel of KalaDene series, The Flame and the Flood, and non-fiction Outlander and the Real Jacobites: Scotland’s Fight for the Stuarts. She was the editor of the British Fantasy Society’s fiction publication BFS Horizons for four years and is now the Chair of the Society. She lives with her husband and 3 children on the bonnie banks of Loch Lomond.

Find out more about Shona on her website. Or you can follow her on Facebook and Bluesky.

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